Editorial: Hunger Is Widespread

Editorial: Hunger Is Widespread

Saturday, May 9, is the postal carriers food drive; put a sturdy bag with food donation next to your mailbox that morning.

There are families dealing with hunger in every county in the United States, including here in Northern Virginia.

In Fairfax, there are 67,190 people who are food insecure, (facing hunger at some point monthly) which is more than 6 percent of the population, according to a report by Feeding America. In Arlington, 8.7 percent of the population is food insecure, 18,750 people. In Alexandria, 10.8 percent of the population faces hunger at least monthly, that’s 15,540 people.

You can see the national data by county in an interactive map: http://map.feedingamerica.org/

ON SATURDAY, MAY 9, as they deliver mail, postal carriers will collect donations of nonperishable food left by residents near their mail boxes. They will be joined by retired letter carriers, by family members and friends, and by volunteers to help collect and distribute the sacks of non-perishable food items that get left next to mailboxes that morning.

People are encouraged to leave a sturdy bag containing non-perishable foods such as canned soup; canned vegetables; canned meats and fish; pasta; peanut butter; rice or cereal next to their mailbox before the regular mail delivery on Saturday. Carriers will bring the food to local food banks, pantries and shelters.

The annual food drive is held in more than 10,000 cities and towns in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Guam. Last year almost 73 million pounds of food was collected in the one-day event for people in need throughout the United States.

CHILDREN ARE AFFECTED by hunger disproportionately, with nearly 30 percent of students in Fairfax County Public Schools poor enough to receive subsidized meals at school, which is an incredible 51,968 students. That percentage is more than 31 percent in Arlington with more than 7,700 students poor enough to get meal benefits. In Alexandria, 60 percent of students are poor enough to get meal benefits; that’s almost 8,600 students.

Many of these students go hungry on weekends, during school closures for bad weather and in the summer. More on that soon.

In the meantime, leave a bag of food out by your mailbox on Saturday.